3 must-meet downtown mixologists

Nader Chabaane, Nacarat

Nader Chabaane from Nacarat—a bar found within the four walls of Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth—is at the top of his game. This self-styled citizen of the world enjoys a jealousy-inspiring résumé. After cutting his teeth at renowned Hemingway Bar in Paris’ Ritz-Carlton, this cocktail lover worked in New York for the very reputable Pierre’s—in the Hamptons, to be precise. Cut to a stopover in China, then to the French capital’s La Maison Champs Éysées Hotel’s Blind Bar (where refreshments are made on the spot, on a whim, really), an establishment that has earned its ranking as one of the top ten bars in the country. It wouldn’t be until the year 2013 that we would get to see Chabaane Quebec-side, this time as Mixology Director at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. Since 2016, he has been working his craft in Montreal, where his signature cocktails tend to wow those who imbibe them—like Nader’s “Detour”, a delicious Skinos Mastiha-based beverage (a Greek liqueur), pistachio cream liqueur, and grapefruit served in an orange-traffic-cone-inspired glass as a cheeky homage to downtown’s traffic…situation.

900, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest, Montréal

Johanna Montgraw, N sur Mackay

Much to the delight of the bar’s clientele, Johanna Montgraw has spent every day of the last six years concocting hundreds of classic and signature cocktails at N sur Mackay. This drinkery plays the casual and convivial cards quite deftly. When Montgraw makes a cocktail, what it really boils down to is striking the right balance between creativity and simplicity. The little garden at N sur Mackay provides her with most of the herbs and edible flowers she features in her cocktails. The bar’s Scotch Single Malt offering exceeds 150, and for Johanna (but contrary to popular belief), making a cocktail with scotch is not tantamount to blasphemy…but drinking is believing. On the patio or in the barroom, N sur Mackay is the perfect locale for savouring one of the mixologist’s house cocktails of predilection—the Piscothèque—a refreshing Pisco-based beverage (a South American spirit) made with Ancho Reyes, tamarind, pear and lime.

1244, rue Mackay, Montréal

Andrew Whibley, Cloackroom

Going for a drink at the Cloakroom is an experience in and of itself. Thanks to the talents of Andrew Whibley et al., this tiny NYC-inspired speakeasy is nicely nestled into De la Montagne Street and has built quite the reputation for itself over the years, attracting the most enlightened of cocktail lovers. One particularly striking feature of the Cloakroom is its menu, which isn’t set in stone. Here, it’s about inventing drinks on the spot to client specifications. “First and foremost, we want to create a sensory experience that’s both custom and unusual,” says Andrew. To whip up the perfect cocktail, this flavour specialist uses a wide range of high-end, house-made spirits, liqueurs and tinctures that he embellishes with fresh produce. With Manhattan in his heart, Whibley has created a cozy little cocoon in the heart of downtown—and the perfect place to tickle your taste buds.

2175, rue de la Montagne, Montréal